By Majid Alam, MuslimMirror.com,
Set in the bustling city of Benaras, Mulk is an interesting story about a Muslim family which loses one of its child to terrorism, thereby unfolding a series of prejudices against the community. The movie set around a Muslim family touches political lines and has deep religious undertones.
The Movie is directed by Anubhav Sinha featuring Rishi Kapoor as Murad Ali Mohammed, Taapsee Pannu as Aarti Malhotra, Prateik Babbar as the terrorist Shahid Muhammad and Rajat Kapoor as Danish Javed. The film comes at a time when religious bigotry is ubiquitous, communal hate crimes are on rise and prejudice is firmly imposed through the mechanism of fake news within social media.
Shahid Mohammed is accused of planting a bomb thus being accused of a terrorist. Later Shahid is killed in an encounter by SSP Danish Javed, another Muslim. While the jurisdiction of the case is still underway, Bilal Mohammed (Shahid’s father) is taken in custody. Charges are also made against Shahid’s uncle Murad Ali, a famous lawyer and head of the family. Bilal Mohammed dies in the custody and Aarti Malhotra, married to Murad Ali’s son takes up the fight of Murad Ali.
The movie tries to explore the prejudices that are commonly alluded to Muslims. Such prejudices include the argument that all Muslims are inherently violent and Muslims being undereducated and unemployed are potential terrorists. The film goes on to depict how the fringe elements in all religious groups are capable of terrorising others, be it the Muslim terrorists or the Hindu fringe groups. The film tries to redefine terrorism where the religion is not seen as the basis of the criminal act and creates room for discussion and introspection.
While the movie tries to break away certain prejudices associated with the Muslim community, there are certain problems with the character building and the preconceived notions that represent the narrow understanding of the criminal jurisdiction within the country. While the film shows Aarti Malhotra is happily married to Murad Ali’s son, who being a Muslim is a bit difficult to apprehend due to the times we are living in. Inter-religion marriage especially when the boy is Muslim and the girl being a Hindu has become problematic; very often leading to crime and dogmatic discussions around the term love-jihad or terrorism of love.
When the court proceedings against Bilal Mohammed and Murad Ali starts at a very early stage in the movie, it is important to mention the delay in proceedings – often leading to long jail tenures for under trials- in real life. Going by the NCRB record of 2014, at least 60000 under trials Muslims were in jail across the country. Many of them have to spend more than 10 years before finally being discharged for false terrorism charges. Mohammed Amir was one such accused, who was acquitted after 14 years of terror charges. Terror charges like these goes for several years, Murad Ali was for strange reasons shown to be the exception.
The film shows Muslims like Shahid Mohammed (terrorist) and Danish Javed (SSP who encountered Shahid) at crossroads, one serving the country while other being a terrorist. Things would become crystal clear if we move a step back and relook at the two characters. While it is easier for a Muslim to become a terrorist like Shahid, it is far more difficult to become a Senior Police Officer like Danish. The problem is of course not the under-education, but the problem goes far deeper including unemployment, income disparity, lack of formal employment which further leads to the absence of basic facilities, education being one of them.
Mulk ends on a happy note when Murad Ali is acquitted of charges with judge delivering a sermon about how to tailor a child and how to roam around freely whilst spotting a beard. But will the court sermon in the “real” world provide justice to the families of “acquitted” terrorists?
The movie tries to send the message of communal harmony when media in current times is hell bent upon to spread hate and destroy the social fabric of our society. Anubhav Sinha has tried to break the stereotyping of Muslims in Indian movies.
Mulk a box office hit is also making raves among film critics and being applauded by likes of Shekhar Gupta. A film which will go down in history as a trend setter in Indian cinema and set to become a milestone for Bollywood.